The Science Behind Fear & Cold Calling

The Science Behind Fear & Cold Calling


Have you ever heard of Atychiphobia? Neither had I, until recently. It’s a medical term I stumbled across recently. It immediately inspired me to write about it and share my thoughts to all sales candidates and professionals,  since most of us at some point in their sales career struggled with this phobia.

Atychiphobia (n.) fear of failure; an irrational and persistent fear of failing at something, and it’s been found to cause anxiety.

A study illustrated that 48% of B2B salespeople are afraid of making cold calls. Instead of prioritizing Jeb Blount’s golden hours for new business development, the 48% have a proneness to justify, validate and defend spending their golden hours on other “important” activities.  

Unfortunately, salespeople who are nervous of picking up the phone and making that cold call find it hard to achieve their target, are more frazzled and will not make as much money than the other 52% who don’t share this phobia.


The science behind fear

When you’re anxious the blood in your body flows away from the frontal lobe of your brain which is responsible for logical thinking, reasoning and managing emotions. Fear then triggers the reptilian part of your brain (the fight-or-flight system) into overdrive.

The fear of failing at cold-calling therefore becomes self-given as atychiphobia causes less blood flow for you to think rationally, which restricts your capability to respond quickly, which then results in damaging the number of leads and new opportunities. See where I’m going with this? When your reptilian brain is activated, then your approach or questions may throw your prospects off and get a fight or flight reaction. For that reason, prospects either end the call or become cautious. Neither reactions results in new opportunities. This negative cycle is fortified when a salesperson continues to procrastinate and say; “I’m too busy to cold call right now” or “cold-calling is not for me; I get more opportunities from email campaigns or conversations on LinkedIn”.  


Fix the problem, not the symptom

Reluctance and procrastination when it comes to cold calling are just symptoms of the rudimentary problem. Putting yourself out there with a chance of getting rejected is a real fear – people don’t like that feeling. This feeling often leads to avoiding the phones as we try to protect ourselves from something bad, before it even begins!  My advice is to prioritize on tackling the issue (atychiphobia) first and then see what transpires to the symptoms.

By the way, fear is what makes us human. So congratulations, you are human!

Cold calling can and should be a part of your routine just as much as having your morning tea once you recognize how your brain reacts to fear and take a few easy steps to change it.


Train your brain

The secret to overcoming this self-given fear is to simply get used to it so your body doesn’t sense any fear. The more comfortable you are cold calling, the more confident you will be.

So, how do you train your brain to be more at ease with cold calling if you’re anxious about it? Practice role playing with colleagues; I’m not a betting person whatsoever, but the odds are they too, feel/have felt the same anxiety from cold calling. Role play is an effective and easy way to show the brain that nothing bad happens when you cold call.

If you want to be a top sales rep then you’ll need to master the art of getting your prospect’s attention by cold calling. Can’t avoid it (sorry!). Be proud and grateful to work in sales because you are solving problems and adding value to your prospects and customers. Being secure with your value and your purpose, as well as overcoming the fear of failure, will no doubt not only see your sales increase, but it will have a positive overall impact on your confidence and life in general!

Have you ever experience Atychiphobia in your sales role or any other role? How did you deal with it?

Let’s kill the stigma, start the conversation and be open about it!